Take Me to the Old Ball Game or the Hamptons
YES, I SLEPT WITH THE MAN THAT NAMED “THE HAMPTONS”,
There are only two conditions that exist on the planet, according to the dictates of Arthur Chester (Gramps)Robinson. Whenever asked about the condition of his day, Gramps would reply, a)”it’s a great day for a ball game”, or b)”can’t play no ball today”. Today, is the best day of all. Opening day of the Major League Baseball season.
“Let’s get a move on young fella, no time to waste, first pitch one o five”. Gramps bellowed for the third time.
“Gramps, it’s only six a.m., we’ll make it”.
Shep Miller Clothier, Main st. Southampton. Haberdasher to the young stars, and ol’ money on the East End, made sure that “his boys” wore the latest in opening day attire.
Gramps opening day ensemble consisted of: Strawberry colored cotton-silk Dac style trousers, with three quarter inch cuffs with creeses so sharp, amazing how his legs didn’t bleed. Baby blue Francois Valon imported banlon shirt with the stitched collar. Misty-gray silk stockings, covered by impecabally glossy Florsheim penny loafers, with a ten cent piece, in the penny slot.
“The Duke of Kennsington was shopping at Sheps, and gave me the nod of approval.(“very snappy outfit”) says the-Duke. Gramps always let you know when someone of importance has witnessed an episode of his life. So, I thought it best not to remind Gramps, the last time he told this story, it was the Duke of Wellington.
The next task of this expedition was to board Gramps’ steel gray Dyna-flow Packard Delux, without scrapin’ my shins. All aboard! Next stop, Main st. and Jobs lane. Corwiths’ Apothecary and soda fountain. Where the rest of the opening day crew would be impatiently finishing their third, maybe fourth egg creams. With syncopation of a barbershop quartet, they each chime in.
“Where you been all day?” says the Judge.
“We been here long enough to be sick of egg creams” yells professor Smith.
“Let’s get this show on the road” claims the cook.
In the event the beer tastes like just one more, our designated driver Sleepy Charly Fox. Sleepy didn’t care for baseball that much. Sleepy just liked making sure, the boys got home safely. On the road. Opening day, here we come.
Little Freddys’ Hot hotdog road side snack wagon, was usually the signal for Gramps to begin his ride to opening day baseball dissertation.
A tear would sometimes drop from Gramps’ eye, as he informs us Freddy had been wounded in the war, ending a promising baseball career. Gramps wiped his eye, and reared back as if it was going to be a long one. As Gramps recounts.
The East End Boys were playing the Jay Giants at the old West Stadium. Gramps was on first base. As the pitcher was in high windup, Gramps took off for second base. Upon Gramps’ arrival at second base, The Giants rushed from the dugout screaming.
“Hey you can’t do that!”
Everyone pushing and shoving, Gramps stood his ground “I’m calling it stealing the base” yells Gramps.
Somebody yells back, to get the rule book.
Keezer Smith arrived with the rule book, with three pages missing. However, there was no rule that said a player cannot advance as long as the ball is in play. Gramps scores again.
Gramps takes a deep breath, and continues. His last at bat, Gramps walks.
“They start watching me, cause I’m jumping around like firecrackers were going off in my back pockets.”
“The next pitch, I’m off. I could see the baseman catch the ball, and was waiting for me. Three feet from the bag, I drops to my left thigh, propelling myself forward like a log. Knocking the baseman to the ground, as he misses the tag, ‘safe!’ yells the umpire.”
Deja baseball vu, as the Giants clear the dugout again.
Yelling and screaming. “My team was so busy laughing, and hooting, they couldn’t get to the field.”
“You can’t do that” yell the Giants, like hog callers.
“This guy is nuts!”
“There is no playing in the dirt, in baseball!”
“Keeser, get the book” yells the umpire.
Gramps was quick to reiterate, that he had out-maneuvered the baseman with my slide.
“The steal, the slide, I created two of the most profound tactics in the game of baseball. I’ll never be in the Hall of Fame, and there ain’t even a picture or statue of me nowhere.” A big smile, and a loud boisterous elephant laugh, with a look like he had swallowed the cat and the canary, always made me laugh.
The Baroness of Wiltshire was attending the game, and asked Gramps for an autograph as Gramps reveals, “Wiltshire is in Europe, and the Baroness was hot, back in the day.”
Gramps remembers it like it was yesterday. However, previous to yesterday, when telling this story, it was the Duchess of Wickstone (which is not in Europe), who was so hot.
“Where is the East End, and where are you from?” asked the Baroness.
Gramps says he used his European voice, so she would understand. Explaining the team was comprised of members from the East End of Long Island. Hampton Bays, East, West, South, Hampton. All the way to Montauk, and in betwix.
“Just call us The Hamptons” yells Gramps.
Even the Baroness stated that she thought I had created the perfect brand name. She would certainly tell her friends and countrymen to visit The Hamptons.
“That’s right, I was the first to call the East End ‘The Hamptons’”.
When it was discovered that it was Gramps who coined the phrase “The Hamptons”, from time to time Gramps experienced some verbal harassment and ridicule. Similar to the static people recieve for calling San Francisco…Frisco.
However, as the new and younger money moved East, The Hamptons, became quite the nombe d’jour.
Opening day was smash hit as usual, passing much too quickly. Gramps’ team won, which made the tone of the trip home upbeat. Nothing compares to arriving home to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, with chocolate milk prepared by gama.
“I just knew you boys would need a little snack” sweet words of gama.
I heard Gramps next dissertation a bunch too many times.
Hearing how Gramps singlehandedly talked Jackie into playing for Brooklyn, would be music to my ears, and sooth my baseball soul this night.
“Darn fool, wanted to go back to school, sell insurance, or real estate, or some other useless trade. The talent I seen in that kid, no way was I gonna let him bypass that opportunity. Put on that uniform and dem spikes, oh yeah, don’t forget your manners, and hit that field like you own it. I must have repeated those lines two trillion times. Just imagine, the game of baseball would not be the same, the whole world would be different, had Jackie not listened to me”. There was no elephant laugh, but that I-just-ate-all-the-candy smile was ever present.
Before long, Gama would wake Gramps and me.
“You two stop drooling on my couch, and get to your beds.”
It was then that realized, not only had I been taken to the ball game by Arthur Chester (Gramps) Robinson, the one responsible for changing the structure of baseball by creating the steal and the slide, but that I slept with the man who named “The Hamptons”.